Last week we spoke about the importance of investing in a roofing website and we’ve heard from several of you who believe that a roofing website is overrated heading into 2019. You cite the presence of free organic channels like Google Maps, Facebook, etc. You also stress that the new home page for roofers is in fact Google itself. The Google homepage theory alleges that consumers will never even reach your website when they perform a search of it on Google. Instead, they will gravitate towards other web entities associated with your business, which are most commonly; one of the following:
- Business Directory Listings (Yelp, BBB, etc.)
- Google Maps Listing
- Google My Business Profile (Via Knowledge Graph)
- Social Media Pages (Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
Yes, those channels have major appeal to users, but none of them will rank well without a website serving as your company’s online foundation. This error in judgment is perfectly understandable. The assumption (albeit an incorrect one) is that the channels listed above will appear prominently on SERPs without the existence of a website. But research shows that the assumption is false. There’s a strong correlation between organic rankings (your website) and local map pack rankings (your Google Maps listing). What this means is that the two are not mutually exclusive, but rather hold a strong association with one another. Without a website, ranking on Maps or having a robust Google homepage in any sense, is unrealistic.
Google Homepage for Roofers
Stressing the importance of a website does not devalue the emergence of the Google homepage. Quite the contrary, the Google homepage has undoubtedly taken over, but a high-quality website is one of the most important components to presenting an ideal one. Research shows an increase in zero-click SERPs. What this means is that since 2016, we’ve seen a more than 20% increase in SERPs the produce zero clicks. That means the user does not click on PPC, organic, Maps, or anything. This is due in large part to their ability to reach out to a local service without ever having to go further than the Google homepage itself. What this means is that while a website itself may be less frequently visited than it was 5-10 years ago, its existence is enough to provide a superior Google homepage. Factors to consider include:
- Cohesive Branding: Many components enhance a Google homepage, with websites being #1
- Traffic isn’t Everything: Your website traffic may be down, but your conversions can be stable
- Zero-click Increases: More SERPs are producing zero clicks than ever before
So the old adage of the website being the first impression of your company is likely no longer accurate. But its value remains in other areas. We’ve stressed throughout this article that achieving any kind of search visibility is predicated on a foundational website. How often do you see Maps results for companies that don’t have a website at all? After all, there’s even a button on each Google My Business listing that shows “website.”
If users click that button and reach no destination, it’s unlikely to go over well algorithmically or from a user experience standpoint in general. The company site remains the foundation of your digital marketing presence as a roofer, it’s just for different reasons than it was 5-10 years ago. The evolution of Google is not going to stop anytime soon, so remaining flexible is optimal when approaching your marketing strategy in 2019 and beyond.
How Roofing Websites Drive Branding
You can think of the web in terms of degrees of separation. No piece of data is unaffiliated. The more strings of digital channels you can associate with a foundational asset (your website), the more effectively you can build an online brand for your roofing company. Branding is as important to lead generation as any other web-based component. But branding online may not be what you think it is. Traditionally, branding had to do more with aesthetics and values. In the digital space, branding refers primarily to establishment and visibility. Having a visually appealing website and logo is still helpful, as is a slogan and company description, but they will remain relevant without the more tangible branding tasks that must precede them. For example:
- Asset Affiliation: Connecting GMB & Social Media listings to your website
- Search Visibility: Appearing predominately on Google page 1 in multiple areas
- Web Design: The back-end coding of a custom website
How you see your company isn’t necessarily how Google sees it. In fact, often times the two perceptions don’t resemble each other at all. Roofers tend to think of branding in a more traditional framework. In other words, they ask themselves how to best translate their values through a web presence. Google is less concerned with a company’s own opinion of itself and far more interested in how its users view the company. Behavioral metrics help determine a website’s ranking, and ultimately rankings of other digital assets as well. The best course of action is to develop a site that users seamlessly navigate and engage with. From that point, only good things will follow.
New Google Features That Threaten Organic
The emergence of paid Maps pack listings, along with Google Guaranteed program has decreased the number of clicks on a given SERP page. MOZ found that in 2018, 35% of competitive local keywords had local pack ads. In most cases where ads are present, they are followed by 2 organic results. Still, the loss of that 3rd organic Map Pack listing is one less spot for a local roofer to generate clicks and eventually leads. The Google Guaranteed program is a glorified lead gen platform in which Google serves as the lead broker for small businesses, including roofers. They create yet another SERP element that takes users away from organic results. The combination of all these things can be discouraging, but there are ways to adapt:
- Establish your Company Website
- Expand Your Web Presence
- Publish Consistent Content
Google may add or subtract new features during 2019, and there’s no way to project what those will be. The only thing we can control is being attentive to changes as soon as they happen. Roofing contractors who want to both establish and sustain organic click-throughs have to find new ways to adapt to a constantly changing landscape. But if there’s one thing that hasn’t changed, it’s the necessity of a high-quality roofing website. Custom design, schema markup, seamless navigation, and visual appeal are some of the many characteristics of a high-quality website. Optimizing for keywords in your local market can only increase your chances of acquiring leads online. For these reasons, a full-service digital marketing company is recommended.